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The Hawk Lady – Bird Control at Berthon

November 30, 2015

Over the last few months, if you’ve been around the marina or yard at dawn or dusk, you might have noticed something unusual flying around the mast heads, namely Taffy – the Harris Hawk.

From late summer Taffy and his handler, Elizabeth Dallimore, have been plying their trade at Berthon helping to control the starlings and seagulls.

The hawk has been flown in the morning and evening, in particular, to reduce the influx of roosting birds. Elizabeth was trained by her father in the art of falconry and bird husbandry, and follows in his footsteps working with her birds – not just for bird control, but displays and hawk walks. She has several birds in her brood that she can call upon, depending on where they are working, these include…

taffy harris hawk

Taffy – Male Harris Hawk

8 years old, this is the bird that she does most of the work with. He is perfect for bird control at Berthon as flying him is like walking a dog. He will follow Elizabeth around the yard, flying from perch to perch or mast to mast.


Delilah – Female Lanner/Peregrine

5 months old. Delilah has been to Berthon, but only as part of her training. She’s getting used to travel boxes and meeting new people and becoming a valued part of Elizabeth’s bird control team following in the footsteps of Taffy.


Boux – Female Barn Owl

7 months old. Boux hasn’t been flying at Berthon as the Barn Owl is more for show and tell and display and experience events that Elizabeth runs, allowing people to get up close and personal with a range of different bird types.

Elizabeth also sub-contracts with Hawkforce and works with companies like Rentokill for pest and bird control, sometimes in London.

Elizabeth says “At Berthon the idea is to reduce the amount of birds, mainly starlings, roosting in the riggings and on masts at night. Taffy’s presence on the glove is enough to move the majority of the birds just walking around the yard, but it also acts as a warning to the flock birds and they soon move on”

Elizabeth started with a two week intensive plan flying each night 30 minutes before dusk, this moves the birds away from the yard as they start looking for somewhere to roost for the evening.

She continues “We then moved to a few evenings a week, and mornings, depending on what’s needed. The idea is that the birds then think that the yard is a danger area for them, meaning they won’t even pass through the area. This has resulted in a much cleaner yard, with a lot less mess”

Berthon clients can rest assured that they’re not getting bird strikes on their yachts and, in keeping with Berthon’s commitment to the environment, it’s also an eco-friendly way of controlling roosting birds.

The Hawk Lady - Bird Control at Berthon

falconry facts5 Falconry Facts

  • The practice of falconry is ancient dating back to around 2000BC. It’s thought to have originated in Mespotamia.
  • Many terms in the English language are derived from Falconry, for example: Hoodwinked, Mantelpiece, Fed-Up and Cadge.
  • Mews were originally used to keep Falcons in – not horses! The word ‘Mews’ comes from the birds’ cyclical loss of feathers known as ‘mewing’ or moulting. From 1377 onwards the king’s falconry birds were kept in the King’s Mews at Charing Cross, in London.
  • Imping is the procedure of repairing broken or damaged primary and tail feathers. An imping needle, or small thin piece of wood, such as a cocktail stick, is inserted into the shaft of the feather & the rest of the feather glued into place. The word is derived from the Old English word “impian”, meaning to implant or graft.
  • Medieval falconers often rode horses but this is now rare with the exception of contemporary Kazakh and Mongolian falconry. In Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia, the golden eagle is traditionally flown, often from horseback, hunting game as large as foxes and wolves.

To find out more about Elizabeth’s business on her Facebook Page.

Also see the previous Berthon Lifestyle Magazine more detailed article on Falconry available to read and download here – Berthon Lifestyle (page 26 – 28.)

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